One defense people make for big government is that it serves as a counterweight to big business. Unfortunately, the last tax-payer bailout of the automobile and bank industries gives little support to that argument. What’s more, recent revelations in Luke Harding’s new book, The Snowden Files, unmasks a coziness between the NSA and companies like Google and Yahoo which puts the final nail in the coffin of that defense.
Understandably, after 9/11, businesses assisted in NSA’s investigation of terrorists. But when the agency began to request information on everyone in the country, telecom and media giants grew cautious. They were afraid of a public outcry if the information got out. But rather than defend their customer’s right to privacy, they offered their own solution, suggesting to Keith Alexander, director of NSA at the time, that he invoke Section 215 of the Patriot’s Act. That provision allows government to acquire a company’s records when pursing a security threat — a suggestion which officially put the nation on red alert all the time. As Harding explains the arrangement, the industry’ compelled Alexander to compel industry’ by court order. (sic) (The Snowden Files, by Luke Harding, pg. 98.) The suggestion was collusion pure and simple.
Unfortunately, there’s more. In an article by David Sirota, staff writer at PandoDail and author of bestselling books like Hostile Takeover, he reveals how intertwined government and big business have become. Take the Koch brothers, for example. Though they are outspoken opponents of big government, they aren’t shy when it comes to handouts. So far they’ve received $88 million worth of government subsidies. And there’s more. Intel has accepted 3.8 billion, Google and Yahoo have received $632 million and $260 million respectively. So far, according to Sirota, the Fortune 500 firms “have received 16,000 subsidies at a total cost of $63 billion.” (“How the Rich Became Dependent on Government Welfare,” by David Sirota, Oregon Alliance for Retired Americans, May 2014 pg. 3) If sums like that were given to poor and middle class, these oligarchs would be screaming for reform, calling the handouts anti free market and un-American.
Information of the kind provided by Harding and Sirota, sends my thoughts flying to the warnings of satirist, George Carlin. He seems to have got it right:
They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls. They got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying. Lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests.
(Photo of George Carline courtesy of www.possumsal.com)